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Lincoln homecoming reunites Marysville, Arlington families

EVERETT — Lakeshia and Dennis Drahos got married two months before Dennis joined the Navy six years ago, but this was their first full deployment as a Navy couple.

Petty Officer 1st Class Dennis Drahos Sr. has served on board the USS Abraham Lincoln for the past three years, and when the Lincoln pulled into Naval Station Everett on March 24, he and Lakeshia shared one of the first kisses coming off the brow, as she held nine-month-old Dennis Jr. in her arms.

"We went through a lot in this deployment," said Dennis Drahos, who lives with Lakeshia in Marysville. "We got the Battle 'E,' which means we're one of the best carriers in the fleet."

"He just made First Class during this deployment, too," Lakeshia Drahos said.

As much pride as Dennis takes in his seven-month deployment, he shared Lakeshia's enthusiasm for finally being reunited.

"We're just going to go home and enjoy each other as a family," Lakeshia said.

Lakeshia acknowledged the difficulties of raising Dennis Jr. while his dad was away, but also credited her son with keeping her busy enough that the family's time apart passed by faster.

"He's kept me company and is very active," Lakeshia said. "You have to stay positive and stay in contact during a deployment. E-mails and phone calls make a big difference."

Petty Officer 2nd Class Jody Davis, one of Dennis Drahos' Lincoln shipmates, was not only reunited with his wife Katie when they shared one of the first kisses off the brow that day, but also met a new member of his family for the first time.

"I'm just kind of in shock right now," said Jody Davis, as he held his five-month-old son Colby, who was born while his father was still out at sea. "I'm gonna hang out with this little guy for a long time."

Jody and Katie Davis got married a year ago and live in Arlington. Jody's four-year enlistment in the Navy, almost all of which has been served on board the Lincoln, is set to end in April, after which he hopes to find a job at Boeing. Although this marked Jody's second deployment, it was the first for Katie as his wife.

"I've had all my family to keep me company," said Katie, who was joined by parents Tony and Wilma Snider on the pier, as well as her sister Kristen. "It can be hard to keep going on my own, but it's been even harder to know how much he's missed me. We just want to go home and have a normal life. He can't wait to play with the baby."

Katie laughed as she added that Jody planned to get a dinner at Red Robin by the end of the day.

Shannon Huff has been through two deployments as a Navy wife, and as president of the Lincoln's Family Readiness Group, she lends her experience to helping other Navy families cope with that time apart.

"I mentor new Navy wives on everything from how to read their husbands' paychecks to how to move on with their lives," said Shannon Huff, a Marysville resident who's been married to Petty Officer 3rd Class Mitchell Huff for more than three of the five years that he's served in the Navy. "We try to give them the tools and resources they need to deal with it."

Capt. John Alexander, commanding officer of the USS Abraham Lincoln, joined Rear Adm. Mark Guadagnini, commander of the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group, in thanking the community for its support of their sailors, as well as the crew of the USS Momsen for its contribution to their counter-piracy operations. The momsen is part of the Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and returned from its deployment that same day.

"We flew 1,900 sorties and 13 of our 14 departments won excellence awards," Alexander said.

"We were doing things to keep America strong and safe," Guadagnini said. "While we were away, our country had free and fair elections, and when we came back, American flags were waving. That's victory enough."

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